Author : David Stevenson
I had never seen the moon so bright and clear.
I had brooded all evening until, shortly before midnight, I went outside and looked at the sky. All evening I had heard the sounds of panic and rioting outside in the street, but now, as I looked up into the sky, all the sounds faded away until it was utterly silent.
The moon was where they made their base when they arrived in our solar system 5 years previously. They set up lines of communication with governments, universities, and big business. We’re here to trade, they said. We’d be really excited if you had a working FTL drive, or some sort of teleporter,, but we’ll consider anything else.
We spent years talking and swapping technology. They obviously had the means to travel between the stars, but they wouldn’t share that. We got batteries which were slightly more efficient, medical scanners which were much more detailed than before; that sort of stuff. They liked our music and architecture, but we could tell that we didn’t have much to offer them.
We learned more about them. They had been working on teleportation for generations, but had had only limited success. They could take pea sized objects, and move them a few centimetres. Trying to move further, or using a bigger object, resulted in a loss of focus at the destination, which translated to certain death for any living being. Try to move a man one metre to his left and you ended up with a corpse. Move him ten metres and you had a large pile of ground beef. A kilometre and you had a cloud of gas.
When it became obvious that we had nothing to offer them they announced that they would take our planet, thanks very much. They invited us to watch while they demonstrated some of their failed teleportation technology. Although it wasn’t terribly good at teleportation, they said, it was terrifically useful for, say, moving heads of state ten metres to their left during live news conferences. It was also good at dealing with nuclear missiles and the like, as it turned out.
They had no intention of doing anything so uncouth as actually fighting us. What they planned on doing was focusing their teleport beam some distance above a city and displacing a large sphere of air. Keeping the beam turned on for an hour exposes the city to near vacuum, and all the humans are dead, but conveniently the buildings and infrastructure are intact. Do this to every conurbation and military base on Earth and any rural survivors can be mopped up later.
The beams started eight hours east of me, at local midnight, and worked their way west. Eight hours of screaming, rioting, sirens, house fires and explosions as the news spread. Now, as I sat on the hillside and looked up at the moon, the beam was turned on. For the first few seconds the wind bit at me as it rushed upwards, going faster and faster, and then fading away as the air got thinner and thinner. All the sounds faded away, I breathed out, my skin started to prickle, my chest hurt, and I knew I was dying.
With no atmosphere to hold it back the moon shone so brightly. The stars that we had never reached were so clear it was as if I could have reached out and picked them up. My eyes, and my body were failing, but the last thing I saw was the beautiful moon, familiar companion, old lover, and home of my killers.
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